By Terry Munderloh

(This is the last in a series of articles in recognition of Women's History Month) 

Rosaceae, Rosa, the Rose.  This flower's name is almost the same in every European language.  Roses have been known throughout the northern hemisphere as far back as written literature records, but the majority of "modern" roses popular in American gardens are chiefly derived from Asiatic species.  Wild roses include the cabbage rose, a native to the Caucasus Mountains of Russia; the damask rose of Syria; and the tea rose, with it's scent of tea, from China.


Indeed, this blossom's history may predate man's.  Donald Wyman, Horticulturist Emeritus, of the Arnold Arbotetum of Harvard University, claims in his gardening encyclopedia that roses, in some form or other, have been on the North American continent for 32 million years.  Dried roses have been found in Egyptian tombs and early poets of Greece, China and Persia all sang her praises.  Shakespeare, Robert Burns and Gertrude Stein further eulogized her in poetry and Bette Midler beautifully symbolizes the bloom as love in song. 

What is the allure of roses that has caused mankind through the centuries to transport her with them on their global migrations, to cultivate, culture and perpetuate the plant's existence?  Perhaps a need to bring something of their homeland with them, an instinct to nurture or an intrinsic desire to propagate and behold a thing of beauty.  On the campus of Sharlot Hall Museum are two rose bushes whose origins date back over 100 years.  One was salvaged from the smoldering ashes of the ravished Civil War south and brought west by stagecoach; one traveled from the east coast in a young bride's trousseau luggage by steamer and mule back to the new frontier.  It is especially fitting that Elisabeth Heckert Shanberger and Margaret Hunt McCormick are commemorated in the museum's Territorial Women's Memorial Rose Garden for they were the bearers of these historic roses to the wilderness capital of Arizona Territory. 

Elisabeth was born October 8, 1818, in the Duchy of Hesse, Germany.  She married John Shanberger, a native of Baden.  Prior to the Civil War, they owned and operated a prosperous plantation at Maumelle, Arkansas in the area now a part of North Little Rock.  During the war they were forced to abandon their holdings and sought refuge in Texas.  On their return to Arkansas when hostilities ceased, they found the plantation in burned-out ruins.  Their slaves had left upon being freed and labor was not available so they decided to move to Prescott.  Elisabeth came via stagecoach through Yuma with her husband who continued on to Prescott ahead of her. 

Only one of her four sons reached manhood and he died as a recruit in the Confederate Army.  Her daughters were Magarethe (who was born and died at age 23 in Maumelle), Catherine Sarah (Mrs. Daniel Hatz), Yonda Louise (Mrs. John Barrington), Elizabeth (Mrs. George Probst), and Mary (Mrs. Benjamin Majors).  Elizabeth was a true pioneer, aided in the establishment of one of the early churches and helped the Hatz family raise their youngsters.  She gave three daughters to Prescott bachelors at a time when marriageable women were few.  She brought with her to Prescott the starters of the yellow rose which flourished here and clippings were given to many residents.  Today it grows as a hedge in front of the Bashford House and in Citizens' Cemetery.  Elisabeth died in Prescott in January, 1895, and is buried in Citizens' Cemetery.  She was nominated to be honored in the Rose Garden by her great-grandson Albert William Bork. 

Margaret Hunt McCormick left her childhood home in New Jersey as the bride of Richard McCormick, Arizona's Territorial Secretary.  When Governor Goodwin was elected Territorial Delegate to Congress, Richard became acting governor and subsequently was elected the Territory's second governor.  Margaret and Richard traveled by steamer from New York to Panama, across the rugged Isthmus on mule back, up the Pacific coast and on to Yuma by stagecoach, again by steamer up the Colorado River to Ehrenburg and finally to Prescott.  The Governor's Mansion was a crudely constructed and sparsely furnished log building with dirt floors and no glass in the windows.  Margaret planted the rose she had lovingly brought with her beside the front door of the Mansion and opened her new home and heart to all the residents in the territory.  On April 30, 1867, she died in childbirth.  She and her baby were buried near the Mansion and the grave was covered with wild flowers.  In 1868, they were exhumed and sent east to her home in New Jersey for reburial at Hazelwood Cemetery.  Margaret's rose survived years of neglect and still flourishes beside the Mansion's front door. 

Terry Munderloh is a volunteer at the Sharlot Hall Museum's Library and Archives

Sharlot Hall Museum Photograph Call Number: (pb006i24a)
Reuse only by permission.

Elisabeth Heckert Shanberger, in her forties for this portrait, brought the starters of a yellow rose from her burned-out Civil War plantation in Arkansas. Today that same rose grows as a hedge in front of the Bashford House and in Citizens' Cemetery. ( Note: for a photo and article about Margaret McCormick, see "Margaret goes to Arizona", Days Past article for April 30, 2000.)